December 1, 2016 / 2:01 PM / a year ago

French power cuts more likely after UK link outage - RTE

* France-UK power link capacity halved

* New developments confirm possible cuts, demand-response

* French winter power supply tight due to nuclear outages

By Bate Felix

PARIS, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Power cuts in France are more likely this winter because of problems with electricity cables linking the country to the United Kingdom and prolonged outages at nuclear reactors, French power grid operator RTE said on Thursday.

RTE warned in November it could impose cuts this winter due to shortages caused by a record number of nuclear reactors being offline for maintenance or safety checks.

Britain’s National Grid, which operates the 2,000 megawatt (MW) Interconnexion France-Angleterre (IFA) with RTE, said on Tuesday that four of its eight cables had been severed, cutting capacity by 50 percent until the end of February.

“The latest assessments based on information provided by electricity generators on November 28 have confirmed the prospect of resorting to exceptional, incremental measures in order to deal with a cold spell or contingencies in generation capacity,” RTE said on its website on Thursday.

RTE, which had been counting on France’s capacity to import up to 12,200 MW of power, said the updated analysis factored in a reduction in the amount of electricity it will be able to import, as well as lower projected supply from neighbours.

The grid operator has said the exceptional measures it may implement include rolling power cuts and asking some industrial companies to cut their electricity consumption.

European power grid lobby ENTSO-E said on Tuesday that Europe would be able to meet higher-than-normal electricity demand this winter, even with tight France nuclear power supply.

But RTE said some other countries may have resort to importing power at the same time as France, putting more strain on the overall balance of electricity supply and demand.

“Several bordering countries may not be able to export electricity to France due to supply demand balance constraints, and some may themselves have to fall back on imports during similar periods to France,” RTE said.

“In the event of a cold snap ... RTE may deploy incremental, exceptional measures to guarantee supply-demand balance and maintain an electricity supply to as many customers as possible,” it said.

RTE said it was on high alert for supply problems in December and that the grid could come under more strain in January and February due to low import capacity. (Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by David Clarke)

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